Thursday, January 20, 2022

Why India?


The morning that we were to take custody of our daughter was supernatural. I awoke to the Muslim Call to Prayer in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. I showered and dressed and went downstairs to meet our lovely host, Manju. Together we shared chai and breakfast. My heart beat normally. My breath was steady. I’m an anxious person to my core and this overwhelming peace that had settled in was the best gift from God that day. Finally the time had come for us to get in the car and head to the place that held a part of my heart for so long. When we arrived, I eagerly yet calmly walked into the rest of my life.

Upon arrival, we were met by a council of sorts. Women in kurtas and saris and a few men sat down with us in a circle offering up more chai and conversation and wanted to know, “Why India?”

How many times have I had that asked since? There are several ways I could answer that question, but honestly the only one that is the most true is because God himself placed this specific child in our hearts and by following Him, we found her. We believe in this Holy Father who says, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.”

On the day we were matched with her, I remember feeling so blue. I had flown to our home in Tennessee after only being in Colorado for a few days with my family. My dearest friend had just suffered the loss of her father, an unimaginable debt in our lives and many others throughout our small community. I had gone back to attend the funeral and try to offer my meager support in the hardest of times. I decided to stay with my mom that weekend, despite owning our house just ten minutes down the road. Isn’t there just something about your mom’s place? It doesn’t matter that you didn’t grow up in that exact house, her peace and security she offers will follow anywhere she goes. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to create in my own family and I truly hurt for each and every person who has never experienced that love from their mom.

I was headed out the door- ready to meet my friends for a quick run. Running is an outlet for me and has been since the birth of our second child. It helps me to alleviate stress and I use it as my therapy. My friends were meeting me at the local track and I was hurrying out the door, borrowing my step dad’s hat and hoping desperately that my Garmin watch was charged (otherwise obviously the run won't count). Just as I was walking out the door, my cell rang and I just knew. The name that popped up on the caller id was connected to my adoption agency in Virginia. My mom was nearby and saw the excited look on my face. I ran back through the front door of her recently built home and pointed at the phone as we settled into my room (the guest room I’ve never actually lived in). She sat down at the desk. I perched on the bed and I put the phone on speaker mode.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Kacy. This is Lisa. How are you?”

“I’m good. It’s nice to hear from you!”

“Yes, I’m calling because I got a referral for your family today that I thought you might be interested in hearing about.”

I could hardly contain my excitement. I had been waiting for these words for so, so long.

Our coordinator had hardly told me her name and a little bit about her before I blurted out that she was definitely the one. I didn’t know her history. I hadn’t talked to my husband about her. I had learned her name thirty seconds ago, but I knew this was our girl and I was so incredibly happy. On the spot, I told our agency that we would be accepting, but out of respect for my husband and the process I would at least give him a call.

And that’s what I did. Just after I called a friend who had adopted from India a few years prior. She said, “You need to call Jordan!” as she laughed and cried with me. It was surreal. I had a name. I would soon have an email with a face.

I recall my mom writing down the letters “Aayushi” on a piece of scrap mail and us both practicing the word that was so foreign to our southern accents. Aayushi means long life and it became my prayer for her over the next year. My mother-in-law wrote it down on a piece of paper adorned with stickers and hung it on her refrigerator. We all awaited news of our girl on the other side of the world.

 I arrived at our local community track and checked my email on my phone. I saw the most beautiful full cheeked, tiny, chocolate- skinned baby flash up on my small screen and I was in love. I showed my friends as we ran a few miles and they rejoiced with me. I’ll never forget that day. I had a renewed purpose and it was getting to this baby girl as fast as I possibly could.

Why India? It was because that’s where Aayushi was.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Story of Us


My bare feet are propped up on the railing of a lanai in Central India. The breeze, while warm to me, has the locals in their winter wear. I feel it rolling off the water in front of me as I look out and see the most vast, open, unpopulated area I’ve seen since we arrived in this country two days ago. It’s the only space that hasn’t inhabited people upon people and I prefer to look out at it.

The ride to our tiny hotel was New York City on steroids. Horns honk constantly and outside the window tuktuks share the road with mopeds, walkers, cars, bicycles, and motorcycles. The weaving and beeping is unreal as the road lines are completely ignored by all who dare drive them. Entire families squeeze on motorcycles, the women with a side saddle approach and the kids sandwiched in between their parents or the handlebars. I had to look down a couple of times so I wouldn’t see how close we came to grazing people who didn’t even flinch.

The lush landscape boasts beautiful flowers and the city walls and structures are a sea of color. I’m romanticizing it, though. I’ve never seen such far stretching poverty either.

I feel sad here.

My Ari Jo spent her earliest days here without a family.

It’s not ugly to me, but the dense smog drains the sky of all color and makes me feel dreary. Inside I see my husband covered completely in a blanket, trying to shut the world out. I did this to him. The last time he was in the East, he was at war and ask any veteran, it’s hard to separate the two. I see him trying, though. It’s the way he calls her “our daughter” and “our little girl” that remind me he would do anything for us, even facing his biggest fears. I hope he sleeps. Tomorrow we get to meet our daughter for the first time and life will never be the same.

In my early college years, I always imagined I would adopt. Looking back, I see that it was a desire God planted in my heart, but at the time I think I just wanted to keep my body to myself. Little did I know, there’s no mother on Earth, biological, step, adoptive or otherwise that gets to keep a little privacy. Every bathroom trip or shower, every bottle or breast, every sleep deprived night, is shared with the little ones you love.

I grew up in a small town outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. I decided to leave that little town for a slightly bigger one in a college town in Middle Tennessee. My husband Jordan did the same, although I didn’t know him yet. We met thanks to his matchmaking mother and my talkative sister who were working together in the same office. They exchanged our facebook profiles and the rest is all history.

Jordan and I talked back and forth online and through texts. I thought he was becoming a friend. I agreed to meet up with him when he got into town. He was stationed at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska and was set to deploy in the coming months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before he left, he would come to Tennessee to visit his parents.  The night of our anti-date, I stressed for hours on what to wear. I suppose that should have been my first hint that I might care a little more than a friendly meeting encompassed. I finally landed on some black shorts and a floral print, silky top. I truly don’t know why I remember that. I recall very little in my head.

He picked me up in an old white Toyota Tacoma truck and we set off for an Italian restaurant that no longer exists. He talked the whole time, asking me questions and getting very little of a response. I liked to hear his stories and I liked sharing mine less. I think it made him uneasy, this woman of few words. He later told me he didn’t think the date was going too well because I was so quiet. By the end of the night, he walked me to my (parents’) front door and told me goodnight. I told him I had a good time and made a bee line to get inside. Upon entry, I wondered if he would ever try to call me again. I knew how I was coming across. I wasn’t not interested, though. On the contrary, I had this gut feeling that I was going to marry him and I told my mama so when she awoke early the next morning.

We spent the next year conversing over emails and AOL chat sessions. We talked about everything under the sun. Everything except adoption.

I put my desire to adopt away for awhile as I fell in love with him and an idea of a family one day. We were wed on a snowy day in January in the hills of Tennessee and we started our lives together in the Alaskan Winter of Fairbanks after he returned home from the Middle East. We knew we wanted to have children and so we wanted to get started quickly if we could. We struggled for awhile in the beginning. About eleven months after we were married, I found out I was pregnant. It was a beautiful, scary, and special time in our lives. After that, the babies kept on coming. It wasn’t fair, I knew. There were so many people hurting, struggling to become mothers. I sat on my couch with four kids surrounding me and felt overwhelmed but happy. The urge to adopt was faint, if not all together gone.

I can’t say when it changed, but change it did. I started feeling very aware of the great need for parents for children domestically and internationally. I became involved in foster care and then started testing the waters of international adoption conversations with my husband. Over that year, every sermon I heard was pointing me to His plan. Every song in worship brought me to tears. I knew I was standing in direct opposition to what God was calling me toward. I felt miserable not walking with Him. Jordan’s stance was clear. “We have four children, Kacy. Now, you want five? Why did I have a vasectomy if that was the case?” The conversations never went well and I decided that I had to give it to God. For the following year, I didn’t bring it up, not once. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, if this is not for us, please remove the desire from my heart and Lord, if this is for us, please give the desire to Jordan.” Then I waited.

At the close of 2019, he took me out to a nice dinner and told me he wanted to talk to me about something. We dressed in our best and sat down in an elegant steakhouse we could ill afford. It was there over flickering candlelight and boozy coffee drinks that we toasted to our next adventure: international adoption. He had come to me that night and said he had been thinking and he thought we should move forward in what God was calling us to do.

Obedience. That’s what has me listening to Hindi into the setting sun and typing up this love story for a girl who has for two years been on the other side of the world, but who is now just on the other side of town and tomorrow will be on the other side of this couch.

That conversation my husband and I had over two years ago happened right around the time that a beautiful, worthy, image bearer of Almighty God was born in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.

There are no mistakes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Monumental Marathon Re-cap



I've had a few days to process the marathon. If running bores you to tears, this isn't the post for you. I usually write out what happened, what I learned, and what I could improve upon. I just went back and read it all and it dawned on me that I never really cheer myself on. Every time I attempt this distance, I lament how I could have done better. I'm constantly disappointed for a time after the race which I think is just bananas. When I PR'd on the hilliest course in my hometown, I was really proud of myself, but I'm beginning to understand it might be because I know I'm not alone there. I knew teachers, coaches, familiar faces, and friends were all along the route. I knew my Loudon Lacers were nearby running, too. My family was waiting for me at that finish line. My body was in constant motion toward them.
Something broke in me at Indianapolis. It was my slowest marathon out of the five I've attempted. Admittedly, my plan was not thought out. I had a lot of other stressors on my mind and when I showed up to race this flat course, I thought, "I'll just hold around a 9'06 pace for as long as I can". In order to PR, I just needed to be under 9'45. I kinda thought I had that in the bag. My training had consisted of a half (13.1 miles) at marathon pace and I was able to hold that at 8'54 at 9,000 ft of elevation! Then later, my 20 miler was done at a slower pace of 10'15 but I felt totally fine. Although I cut corners for sure due to travel and laziness, I thought I was ready to race. The marathon is a beast, though and I was definitely unprepared.
I stayed on task miles 1-14 with my pace at or well below the mark to PR. I had planned to dedicate all my miles to my children. The first five miles I talked to God about Ari Jo. I felt in control of my body. I felt good. I ate my first Gu at mile 5-6 at the completion of that segment and moved on to praying for sweet Saylor girl. Those miles also felt good. I was well ahead of the 4 hour pace group and feeling on track to PR. Around mile 7 or 8 I decided to throw off my top layer so I took my shirt off and tossed it. Unbeknownst to me, I also took off the headphones that were around my neck. One hundred and sixty dollars just thrown away. When I started to slow around mile 11, I noticed they were gone and just felt sick that I had done that. There was nothing I could do about it, though and so I ran on.


In the past, I've made the mistake of starting off too fast in marathons so I wanted to back off a bit even though I felt pretty good so I hovered around 9'40 for miles 11-14. I had moved on to praying for Merit and slipping a few desperate prayers in there for me, too. At this point, I had crossed the half way point just under two hours which was perfect for what I wanted to do for the rest of the race....
But my wheels fell off. Mile 15 is when I started to pray for Abel. The crowds were starting to trigger me for some reason. When I would run up and see a big group of people looking for their people, I was reminded how alone I was in this race. In NYC, I knew my family was around these miles, looking for me and when I saw them, it literally gave me strength to go on. Not in Indy. I saw these crowds and started struggling to breathe. The pressure I put on myself to do well was crushing me. I didn't have any strength to draw on from anyone else. I was gasping for air and not the way I might if I was physically tired. No, I was having a panic attack. Afraid to stop, I dizzily kept on making deep, loud gasps for air. Multiple times, the medical tents tried to help me, but I knew if I stopped, I wouldn't start back again and I had to keep moving. Miles 15-19 were around 10-11 min paces. At mile 20, I took my fourth and final Gu and started whispering prayers for Kinley. The prayers allowed me to focus on something other than myself for a bit, but I'll be honest in saying I felt absolutely terrible and while my mind was breaking down, so was my body. I couldn't seem to propel myself. My legs weren't going. I wanted to sprint and I could hardly walk. I had completely fallen off and watched sadly as the 4 and 4:15 pace group passed me. As always, I reached out to the running group from back home and tried to put a smile on my face as I checked in with them. They told me they were proud of me and to keep going and so I did. I was run/walking the rest of the race and it was truly difficult for me to even finish. As I hit mile 26, I ran as hard as my legs would carry me which happened to be a 10 min pace and crossed the finish line, nearly passing out. I found my friends, sat down, and was so relieved it was over.
Days later, I'm still not sure where the disconnect was, but I'm sure several things went wrong. I learned that:
- I can't cut corners on training
- Sleep and nutrition the day before is way more important than I knew
- Stress is a factor and I can't treat the marathon like it's no big deal- not ever
I truly never wanted to do this again. As the days have passed, though, I know I can't let this performance be my last. I will keep running and I will try again to reach my goal. I will simply be more prepared next time. 
I felt so sad after the race but then I read the words my Papaw sent that said, 
Kacy,
You may not have met your expectations but you have exceeded ours your entire life! 
Congratulations
 on completing another marathon!
Love Papaw

And I truly started to remember that what I had accomplished was no small feat and I needed to remember how grateful I am that I can even run. I love this sport for all it teaches me. Grit, grace, gumption, gratitude...
Thank you all for your texts, calls, messages, and love on race day. I felt them all!



Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us-

Where is my brain on this third day of November? It's in a minefield. 

I've managed to squish two major life events into this month and I thought one would help the other and I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Well, I definitely did, but I'm hoping the Lord will just keep moving me in the right direction. In three days, I'll be running another marathon out of state. Nevermind I haven't properly trained. Nevermind my knees are feeling wonky after a two mile walk. I have to run 26.2 miles very soon. Mentally, I am elsewhere.


I spent the day-- no, literally all day-- filling out paperwork so that we could get our emergency visas to India to go pick up our daughter who is officially ours on paper! The process was tedious and time consuming and very involved. It was hard to focus with the children running around, tending to piano lessons, meal prep, and trying to do school in some way today. I have no idea if I did it properly, but I turned it in and now I wait.

It feels like that time I signed up to take the GRE on the very weekend that my other half deployed to Iraq. Spoiler alert: Not the best decision.

Tomorrow we'll have a call with our agency regarding travel and timelines and all of this would be so much easier if we miraculously got her birth certificate, passport, and our visas in the meantime. These are our last obstacles in being with our fifth child.

When I close my eyes to sleep at night, I picture holding her for the first time. Will she be scared? Indifferent? Will I feel like home to her eventually? 

I've never seen her smile. In all the videos and pictures we've been sent of her life, there have never been visibly happy ones. We have a lot of firsts ahead of us. Tomorrow is her birthday. She will be two years old. Obviously, I wanted to be with her before this day. I want to know her. I want to be the one who meets her needs. The only reason this is all possible is because of a whisper that I heard from God back in college that got stronger and stronger until the message was loud and clear and I could hear nothing else. It has been two years since that day. It's almost as if on the day of her birth that God was letting me know she was out there and I better get started trying to find her. That's what this girl means to me. She is a good and perfect gift that James 1:17 references. I know we're embarking on hard, messy times but we're walking with the God of the Universe and there's nowhere else I'd want to be.

My race. Our adoption. Let's go finish what was started!

"...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Honor to Wait: Adoption Tales

I'm reviewing the files in my head and coming up with very little that's working. How to stay sane in 2021? I don't know. From the devastation in Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, and our own backyard to the fights over the vaccine to the lack of word from India about our daughter, this week feels heavy. For me, upping my water intake, lessening caffeine, working out, turning off social media, and writing always seem to help.

And so here I am.

I wanted to give you a peak into the adoption process as I see it now. I have no update. Weeks go by without a word from India or my agency. I reach out for bread crumbs and there are none. How many times should I check the court app? Maybe if I refresh my email one more time, I'll see her face or read good news. I was warned that hardships were coming when we started this process, but I knew it was where God was leading. Right now, it feels like it will never end or never begin, I should say. I see people bringing their Indian babies home and while I'm happy to see another orphan find a loving family, it feels so foreign to me- like how did you do that? It's impossible. You can jump through the hoop, you can hop on one leg while juggling, you can get three hundred papers notarized, certified, and apostilled and it's still not enough. You can raise up four awesome kids and still have to prove that you can parent. You have to get one person, a stranger, to determine whether you can care for a child better than a group home housing many, many of God's little image bearers. And that one person can take as much time as they want. I get it, but it's maddening.

I want to help her learn to walk, to communicate, to take her to appointments to check on her heart, to have her know what it's like to be loved-

Children belong in loving families. That's the answer to much of our problems around the world today yet it is so hard to do financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

This past weekend, we finally told many of J's coworkers about our plans to adopt Ari Jo. I could talk about her forever. The words just spill out and my excitement over another precious child is evident. I can't shut up. It has cost me "friends" but maybe that's what is meant to happen. Perhaps we're called to sing the praises of this little girl we don't even know, to notice her, to love her because He first loved us.

It is so hard in every way, but it's our honor to wait.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Ode to the small town-



Happy 4th of July, friends. I'm writing tonight with many thoughts floating through my head. I knew I'd feel a certain longing when the this date rolled around. It happens that way with most holidays. Most of my adult life, I've lived away from those I love. And as I approached this day, I tried to place a bandage on the wound, like perhaps it wouldn't hurt as bad because I'm surrounded with 14ers and beautiful views. Just this morning, I ran a 5k through the mountains of Colorado. Anyone would be lucky to live the life I have. Still, my roots are strong and when we moved back to Tennessee, I hoped it would be forever. I love adventure, but I love deep connection, too. 
It doesn't make sense to some and that's okay. Who would know that my great grandfather sat on the same porch for years and viewed the fourth of July parade in the exact same pants every year? Who would know that after traveling around with my Army brats that one day we would return and gather candy thrown out by a hometown police force or fire squad? I certainly couldn't have guessed that my deaf child would hear fireworks for the first time in the place that I call home. Every year at this very time, I snap a photo with my best friend. It's made extra special that the last three of my children have maternity/one year photos with her. It's even more so when you see the progression of battle photos- last year fighting cancer. This year, beating it. 
I feel disconnected and a part of something great all at the same time. Here's to the small towns, the families that make them, and the people who have made them possible by defending our nation's wars and ideals. Onward and upward! To a more perfect union-

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Home Sweet Home


I've had writer's block for a couple of years, I think. I've countless posts started and unfinished sitting in my drafts. Ten years ago, the Internet was a different place. People didn't see every single meal or workout or happening in real time. There were still some folks who would enjoy sitting down and reading a post with several paragraphs about nothing at all. Now, we're all so busy we think, "Just give me the bottom line." So, it's likely that no one will read this, but I still want to write because my happiest times seem to be when I have catharsis working in my favor.

Happy Sunday, y'all. I'm looking out my large picture window from my chair on the opposite side of the room and I have already seen deer, squirrels, and an array of Fall colors revealing themselves. I have a single cup of coffee, all that could be scrounged up here at the house. My phone sits beside me where a book should be. I think we would all be a lot happier without that constant notification and distraction. There's a chill in the air because I refuse to use heat in October. Our house is sitting around 62 degrees and I wouldn't want it any other way. The room I'm in is clean and nothing makes me feel more cozy than a tidy space with a hot beverage and words to consume or pour out. Home is a good place to be.



Had you asked me this some months ago during the time when we were told to stay home, my reaction might have been different. It has been a brutal year for so many. Some of those people don't have a safe place to call home and that's not lost on me. It's something I've had on my brain in some form or fashion all year long- whether it was the adoption or the pandemic or creating a loving home for my own family. Also, what is home? Can I truly build a home anywhere and stoke the fires of education, spirituality, and connectivity wherever we go? We've been home in Tennessee for seven years now- in this house for five years. It is the longest we have been in any home or any other state during our marriage. It has been good to us. We've had family down the road. His and mine. We've had a real sense of community as our kids have grown, faced a diagnosis, battled infections and illnesses, and figured out what life was like outside of the army community. We've made friends here and lost friends, too. It's almost been a refining process this year. When life is really really good you recognize it because at one point it was very very hard. 

I guess that's all I mean to say today. If you're in the midst of a storm right now, please keep pushing. Joy comes in the morning. If you just got out of a storm, celebrate. Let's not be so busy in this life that we forget to intentionally prioritize and savor a slow morning at home curled up in a blanket with our people around us. Life is too short to ignore your blessings and not shout them out when you see them and today I'm thankful for this day that the Lord has made.

 
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